Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Slave Labor in Qatar: A Test for Al Jazeera

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, September 26, 2013

Qatar will be the host of the 2022 World Cup, and has underway what may total $100 billion in construction projects.

But the tiny emirate has a tiny native population, and 90% of those living there are foreigners. It is foreign laborers who will build all these new roads, stadiums, hotels, and the like, and it now emerges that they live and work in misery. The Guardian of London now reports a story entitled  “Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘Slaves.'” Read more »

Obama at the UN: No Time for Freedom

by Elliott Abrams Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly today, President Obama made some general statements in support of democracy. But when he got to actual cases, to actual U.S. foreign policy matters, the word was absent. When he discussed Syria and Iran and the Palestinians, he used words like dignity, security, culture–not freedom. Read more »

Mubarak Speaks–Unfortunately

by Elliott Abrams Monday, September 23, 2013

Through a leaked recording of conversations with his doctor over the past year, we now have new insights into the mind of Hosni Mubarak. Of course, we can’t be sure everything is authentic–not yet, anyway–nor can we be sure that Mubarak was giving this doctor his bottom line. But the Mubarak who emerges in this New York Times account will sound familiar to anyone who spent time with him on behalf of the United States Government. Read more »

Where Is Qatar Heading?

by Elliott Abrams Friday, September 20, 2013

On June 25th a new Emir took over the leadership of Qatar. The question is whether he brought with him new policies.

Yesterday a sign of the old Qatari orientation emerged: Egypt returned a remarkable $2 billion to Qatar. Relations between the two countries remain nasty: Egypt has closed the offices of Al Jazeera (the station owned by the Qataris), detained some Al Jazeera journalists, and refused to increase the number of flights between Doha and Cairo. As VOA reported, “Cairo’s relations with Qatar deteriorated after the Egyptian army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. Qatar had been a firm backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power.” Read more »

The Syria Deal

by Elliott Abrams Monday, September 16, 2013

The text of the framework agreement between the United States and Russia leaves one with more questions than answers.

Until last week Syria denied having any chemical weapons, so its willingness to account for 100% of them is, to say the least, in doubt. Secretary Kerry himself said, when he first mentioned a possible deal, that it couldn’t work. And our partner in this endeavor, Russia, has itself failed to meet all its obligations with respect to chemical weapons. Worse, it remains the key conventional weapons supplier to Syria. Read more »

Syria: The (Non-Chemical) Killing Goes On

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, September 12, 2013

The emphasis on the need to stop the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is understandable. We all want to maintain the international taboo on their use.

But people killed by the Assad regime are no less dead if more traditional means of attack are used. Yesterday, Assad’s forces bombed a field hospital in the province of Aleppo. The vast majority of the 100,000 (or many more) Syrians killed have been killed by bullets and artillery. A “solution” that forces Assad to give up using chemical weapons but does not address the regime’s campaign against civilians–which has also left 2 million Syrians as refugees and millions more as displaced persons–is no solution at all. As Fred Hof (formerly the administration’s chief expert on Syria) wrote today, Read more »